These days, many people fancy themselves, graphic designers. This is part of the tech rave that seems to have grabbed a majority of the youth population. As expected, many of these self-proclaimed graphic designers do not know the basics of design and often make tons of cringe-worthy mistakes.

 In 2020, there were more than 400,256 businesses using graphic designers.  

The youngsters are doing something right by pivoting towards graphic design despite their ignorance. As of 2020, there were more than 400,256 businesses working directly or indirectly with graphic designers. Visuals have become a major way to retain and extend attention, helping businesses thrive.

At the very least, it makes sense to know the basics of graphic design. Here’s a guide to seven graphic fundamentals. This guide to graphic design may not make you a pro, but it will help you get started.

What is Graphic Design?

Graphic design is the process of creating visuals using various design elements. It is the use of art and technology to communicate. This feature makes it a subset of visual communication in that graphic elements are used to pass a message

Elements of design include texts, images, lines, pictures, and symbols. There is no one way that the elements are supposed to be combined. That is left to the wit and intuition of the designer, although there may be basic rules to follow, such as what color combinations are appropriate. However, in the end, the graphic design output should have a visual appeal.

Graphic designers create everything from logos to flyers for online campaigns and even social media content

Why Graphic Design is Essential for Businesses

As a business owner, in most cases, you need to know the basics of graphic design or employ someone to manage that for you for the following reasons:

Communication

The primary job of graphic design is communicating while retaining visual appeal and attention. On the other hand, businesses always look for ways to connect with customers. Thus, graphic designs fulfill this crucial business need.

More than 65% of the world’s population identify as visual learners.  

Graphic designs are excellent tools for communication and grabbing attention because of their visual components. The average person is drawn more to a picture than written words, and more than 65% of the world’s population identify as visual learners. So, with graphic design, you can then communicate more for less. You can grab attention, hold it, and effectively communicate.

Graphic Design Helps Businesses Build a Brand

We recognize most of the brands we have come to love today through their graphics. Take Apple, Nike, Google, Amazon, Starbucks, and the many other brands we use today. All these were made possible through well-orchestrated designs and marketing. Creating a logo or design that stands out is pivotal to creating a brand that stays in the heart of your customers.

Excellent Design Improves Conversion

The first impression a would-be customer will have of your business is created by your graphic design. Research by Adobe Blog reveals that 59% of global users prefer appealing design. Applying this to your business means that more than half of your total clientele will prefer graphic designs that pique their interest. Moving from this point of interest to engaging fully with your business is easy. You are almost too late to the game if you are not currently using graphic design tools.

Graphic Design Helps Businesses Compete Favorably

There is an ongoing fierce competition for customers’ attention. This has existed since the time trade began. Businesses that have the advantage of being more financially buoyant throw more resources into their marketing campaigns. This significantly tilts the scale in their favor.

However, businesses can level the playing field using graphic design. With the various graphic design tools available, any business can easily put out marketing content. There are many basic graphic design projects you can take on, even if you know just the basics of design. In addition to discipline and commitment, this can close whatever gap your lack of resources may create for you in the competitive market. 

Graphic Design Essentials

If you are just starting out in your graphic design journey, here are the graphic design basics you should pay attention to:

Lines

Different types of lines

A line is any shape connecting two points. Lines are used for several purposes. They can be used for emphasis, decoration, or to suggest a state of mind. For instance, a wavy line could communicate playfulness, while a heavy line can be used to emphasize a point or draw attention to any item.

While using lines, also consider factors like texture, style, and color. 

Size

Size is another fundamental element in graphic design. Like color, size applies to every other design element. It can be used to highlight, diminish or balance the relevance assigned to any element.

Size is also important for creating variety and diversity. A great design has an appropriate combination of large and small elements. Understanding how to use size to enhance your design is hence important.

Shapes

A shape is a two-dimensional figure with boundaries. Shapes are either geometric or organic. Geometric shapes can be drawn with a ruler, while organic shapes can be drawn freehand. The latter is said to occur in nature, organically.

Shapes play a primary role in human interactions. This is because most humans think in terms of shapes. For instance, our understanding of street signs, visual displays and even visual art is aided because we recognize shapes.

To use shapes properly, you must learn how to integrate them into your design seamlessly. The best designs hide shapes in plain sight. However, these shapes still influence our interactions with the designs.

 Take the time to study designs from some notable designs. You will notice the genius in how the shapes are placed. Mimic that in your own work, bearing in mind the purpose of your design. There’s no hard and fast rule to it.

“Graphic designers who fail to understand the role color plays in design end up creating jarring designs.”

Balance

Balance is the appropriate distribution of design elements in a design. It is achieved when one element is not disproportionate. There is then the appropriate use of text, space, color, negative space, etc.

Imagine that there is a weight attached to every text, shape, box, or line you use. Balance means that no element’s weight is disproportionate to the others.

Achieving balance can be tricky, especially for beginner designers. This is because it requires intuition to know what works where. Your intuition in design is sharpened with the more experience you garner.

However, note that you can achieve balance in design by using either symmetrical or asymmetrical designs or employing the rule of the thirds. For the first, you divide your design into two. Each half will be similar or the same as the other. That is the easiest way to achieve balance.

In the asymmetrical pattern, you create two halves also. But they will not be the same. Rather, the weight is evenly distributed. This could be by putting design elements of equal weight on both sides of the half. For example, you could put similar information or use corresponding colors or lines on both sides.

The rule of the thirds is the most technical. It requires dividing your design into three segments, divided by three lines. You then place the image you are working with on the first line or close to it. That way, the other half gets balanced out.

Visual Hierarchy

Understanding balance aids in understanding visual hierarchy. While balance aims to even the weight of design elements, in visual hierarchy, you assign priority to them. Visual hierarchy is assigned to elements based on their level of importance.

For instance, topics are often placed at the top of the design and boldened. Stronger colors and bigger shapes can also be used to assign hierarchy. Again, this is intuitive and depends on what the design seeks to convey.

Color

A cross-section of color palette

Color is the most prominent design element. And the most recognizable of the visual design basics. It is inescapable in any design. Additionally, it can be applied to other elements such as lines, shapes, and even space.

Graphic designers who fail to understand the role color plays in design end up creating jarring designs. This is because color dictates the mood of the design. You can convey a wide range of emotions through your color choice. More so, colors work in patterns. The wrong color combinations result in jarring designs.

For businesses, the design color can affect customers’ interaction with a design. Thus, it is important for designers to know the accepted color combinations, depictions, and theories.

Space

Space is much a tool in graphic design as other features like line and shape. It is the space around elements. The appropriate use of space conveys a sense of wholeness in the design.

Negative space is a sub-type of space and is often categorized as a sub-element under color. It refers to areas in the design without any element. Thus, there’ll be no text, shape, or design in a negative space. Think the background space around and between the subject of an image.

Excellent graphic designers deliberately work with negative space to highlight the most important bits in the design. In fact, negative space can even form its own shape.

Graphic Design Starter Pack

Excited to get fully into graphic design 101? Ensure you have the following:

A Computer

In this heavily digitalized world, having a computer is handy when getting into graphic design. It is up to you to decide what computer model to purchase. It might be helpful to note the following:

  • A computer with Random Access Memory (RAM) of 4 Gigabyte or above is recommended.
  • The Hard disk capacity should be at least 128 Gigabytes.
  • The Computer’s Operating System should support 32-bit processors.

Software/Applications

Three Graphic design software you should be looking to get include:

Adobe

Adobe is the most popular design software out there. The reason for this is not far-fetched: the software is the perfect design companion for beginners. Eventually, when you transition to an experienced designer, you can also use Adobe’s advanced features.

Upwork

This is your go-to app for finding graphic designers. It is straightforward to use. You can advertise your graphic design needs and freelancers can reply and bid for your jobs. Upwork is likewise easy to use and affordable.

Canva

This is another easy-to-use offering to get started with your logo design 101 endeavors. Canva has video and photo functionalities. You can create any graphic design project, edit existing ones and even merge old ones using Canva. One other thing: Canva has a free version.

A Sketch Pad

A sketch pad might be your primary design tool. You can start your design on the sketch pad and then finish off on your computer later on. This is an essential and handy tool for when the spur of creativity hits you.

Other Designers

They are not tools per se; however, collaboration with other designers is sometimes inescapable. First, you need other designers to critique your work. Self-assessment can only do so much. You might miss errors when you self-edit.

Furthermore, there may be certain design projects that demand collaboration. It is important to have people who you can readily reach out to make that happen.

Takeaway

As long as visuals appeal to people, graphic design will remain relevant. Whatever field you’re in, knowing how to design a graphic project automatically boosts your value. If you don’t know how to design, you’ll be severely hampered as a business owner or marketing executive.

The great news is that whatever knowledge gap you have now can be easily filled if you commit to learning. Here’s a great place to start, learning the fundamentals of graphic design. If you want to become even more prolific with design, you can take a stroll through our recommended graphic design solutions. There will surely be something for your graphic design tool kit!